So you’re thinking about studying in Groningen and wondering where to start? Here’s a list of all the necessary steps you need to take to move to the best Dutch student city!
Choose your study (and university)
Before you press that application button, you better know the difference between the two universities in Groningen: University of Groningen (UG) and Hanze University of Applied Sciences (UAS). The former is research-oriented, while Hanze is more practice-oriented. So you want to pick applied sciences? Then it’s time to choose a specific study programme. A good way to find information about a programme is to contact current students. Do not worry if you do not know any yet, Hanze has an International Student Team that can answer almost all your questions. They are there to help you obtain information on international bachelor’s and master’s programmes, the campus, Hanze UAS and student life. Hanze also has a buddy program, so you can get in touch with another student that can help you out in your first months.
Apply with the necessary certifications
Once you have chosen your university and bachelor, it’s time to pay attention to all the certification deadlines and language requirements. Most universities in The Netherlands have admission requirements, such as an official English certification (IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge ESOL or TOEIC) or an admission exam. Therefore, plan everything wisely and in time so you do not miss any important certificates. Many UG programmes have a deadline set in middle January for the new academic year (which begins in September), while in most cases Hanze has its deadline set on 1st June for students requiring a visa (non-EU) or 15 August for students from EU or EEA. And in case you would like to apply for a Hanze scholarship, make sure to check out this page.
Start looking for housing
When it comes to looking for a place to call home, there are very few rooms, but many places to look for them. Start your search very early, or you won’t have a roof over your head in August! You can check out Facebook groups (Student rooms Groningen, Free Housing Announcements in Groningen or Groningen rooms are really well known) or subscribe to Kamernet (take into consideration that thet charge a monthly fee).
When a posted room seems too perfect to be true, you can assume it’s a scam
When you use Facebook, be careful not to be scammed: never transfer money before you (or a friend) have actually visited the room first – especially if the bank account is not Dutch. When a posted room seems too perfect to be true, at an exceptional price and there are no comments below, you can assume it’s a scam. You can also look at the social media profile of the posting person for any signs of falsehood.
In case you have any questions or are having problems to find a place to call home, you can also reach out to Hanze’s Housing Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Especially during summer months, the competition to get a room can be really high, so make sure to often check your Facebook feed to quickly send PMs and do not give up easily.
In case you would like to spend your first months or year in a student residence: SSH could be the solution you are looking for. SSH is a housing corporation managing around two thousand rooms in different student residences spread across the city. The Student Hotel is also a popular option among internationals.
Book your flight
Thousands of students moved to the Netherlands by train or took a road trip with their families or friends. But if you are coming from far away and plan to fly here, it’s time to book your ticket. Generally, international flights land at Amsterdam Schiphol or Eindhoven Airport. From there you can take a train and reach Groningen in about two to three hours. You can book the train tickets online – an insider trick is to purchase group tickets (four to seven people), this way they are way cheaper than single ones, but you do need to find three or more people to travel with you. Tickets can also be purchased at one of the yellow tickets machines at the train station or at the NS ticket desk.
Hanze UAS offers a pick-up service from the airport for its students, however, you need to get in touch with the university to arrange it first. Keep in mind to check the latest corona-related entry requirements and act accordingly. This is the official website of the Dutch government with current entry information.
Do some check-up medical visits
It might be wise to do a last-minute medical check-up to make sure everything is working and in place in your body and mind. Indeed, the Dutch health system is not free of charge and a hospital bill could be quite hefty if you do not have a Dutch (or travel) health insurance. International students are not obliged to have Dutch health insurance. However, it could be wise to have a look at the available options in some circumstances. In case you want to work in the Netherlands, even in a student job, you must have a Dutch healthcare insurance. You could also decide to insure yourself for liability, legal assistance, or emergency assistance.
A hospital bill could be quite hefty if you do not have a Dutch (or travel) health insurance
In The Netherlands, you don’t go to the hospital unless you have a medical emergency. In all other cases, you first see a General Practicioner (GP). Therefore, it’s good to register with a doctor in Groningen when you arrive. There’s a doctor’s practice on campus and in the city centre. You can also register at another GP’s practice in Groningen. In both cases you need to book an appointment online or with a call during office hours. Remember to cancel your appointment not later than 24 hours in advance, otherwise you’ll receive a bill. Hanze has a specific email address you can write to to ask anything about immigration and insurance: email@example.com.
Take all the documents to register as a citizen of Groningen
If you plan to reside in the Netherlands for more than four months you need to register at the municipality of the city. Once you book an appointment online here, make sure to bring with you all the documents needed (e.g. your passport, ID card, rental agreement, residence permit (non-EU/EEA nationals), birth certificate and marriage certificate (if applicable)). In case you need any special assistance in obtaining your residence permit or visa, writing to firstname.lastname@example.org could be a smart move. As you have registered at the municipality, you will receive your personal citizen service number (BSN), which will be essential during your stay, for instance to open a Dutch bank account. If you have any questions about the registration process in Groningen, here you can download the main FAQ.
Pack everything and start the countdown
This is the last step before you are ready to start your journey to Groningen. It is time to pack everything and start counting down the days! When you are packing, keep in mind Dutch weather can be really bizarre, very unpredictable, but definitely often cold and wet. So between those pretty shirts and shorts, make some room also for some comfy sweaters and thick socks.
Once you are in town, you can also join some (international) student associations. ESN-Groningen, AEGEE, Vindicat atque polit and R.S.K.V. Albertus Magnus are the main ones. They organize intro-weeks, trips and events which are great opportunities get a taste of student life and meet new friends and create unforgettable memories.